Monthly Archives: May 2013

Increased grant for solar thermal systems

May 2013: DECC announced earlier this week that they were going to increase the level of grants given to householders to purchase renewable heat technologies. The Renewable Heat Premium Payments (RHPP) vouchers scheme was supposed to be an interim measure before the introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), however the life of the RHPP has been extended as a result of delays to the introduction of the RHI. Government announced earlier this year that they expect the scheme to be in place now in Spring 2014 instead of Autumn 2013.

Technologies that qualify for the RHPP include Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP), biomass boilers and solar thermal systems. However – Londoners only qualify for solar thermal – this is because priority for the other technologies is given to households off the gas-grid.  As a result, the number of renewable heat installations installed in London under the RHPP is very low (see Table 2.2 of the latest RHPP deployment data here).

Continue reading…

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IMF point to local authorities to support recovery

22 May 2013: Interesting to see that today’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement United Kingdom—2013 Article IV Consultation Concluding Statement of the Mission – includes the following recommendation to the Chancellor:

“Investment in infrastructure, notably in transport and energy, could be supported by streamlining the planning application process and removing regulatory uncertainty. To accelerate the implementation of infrastructure projects, more authority over planning decisions should be devolved to local authorities, with financial incentives provided through greater revenue sharing.”

Further information on the IMF’s findings can be found on the following press release – U.K. Should Restore Growth, Rebalance Economy.

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London served poorly by Warm Front programme

22 May 2013: After some delay, DECC have published their latest annual report for the Warm Front programme for the year April 2011-March 2012. Little information has been released on the Warm Front programme since early 2012, when measures delivered per parliamentary constituency were published.

The report indicates that London has – once again – been poorly served by the programme, with the capital having the lowest number of homes assisted. See graphic from the report below.

Warm Front was the Government’s principal fuel poverty alleviation scheme and the only energy efficiency scheme centrally funded by Government [ie the various energy supplier obligation programmes that have operated over the past decade (EEC, CERT, CESP) are paid through by charges added to UK householders electricity and gas bills by energy companies]. The incoming Government decided to significantly reduce the budget of Warm Front – from  an annual spend of £345m to £110m in 2011/2012. This was further reduced to £100m in 2012/13 which was also decided to be the last year of the scheme.

The foreword to the annual report points out that “For the first time in the history of the scheme the budget available was not fully spent. The greatest reason for the budget not being fully spent was undoubtedly the low rate of applications received by the scheme.” The Government came under significant criticism in 2012 as a result of this underspend, coming as it did at not only at a time of increasing fuel price rises, but also after the budget of the programme had been cut by 68%! A House of Commons briefing note from February 2012 provides details to all of this – and further info on the impacts in London in post here).

In relation to the final year of the programme – 2012/13 – the annual report for which we may not see for another year (!?) – the Government actually withdrew funds late last year from the Warm Front budget to pay for a number of new initiatives  – the Green Deal Pioneer Places programme, a fuel poverty programme and a collective switching scheme (details via the following link). It was not announced at the time that some £30m was drawn out of the Warm Front budget to fund these schemes  –  and only came to light earlier this year (see latter parliamentary questions from Shadow Secretary of State Caroline Flint to DECC here).

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New London Health Board

May 2013: The newly constituted London Health Board met for the first time on 20 May 2013. A press release sets out that the Board is a “partnership between local government, the NHS and the Mayor of London, which has been established to provide leadership on health issues of pan-London significance, where this adds value to decisions, agreements and action at local level.” A useful evidence paper was presented at this first meeting setting out some useful information on ‘Health in London‘. None of the papers  indicate that the Board are to address issues relating to health and its relationship to cold homes or fuel poverty, however,  this is only their first meeting…

The London Climate Change Partnership recently published ‘‘Linking Environment and Health: A resource for policy and decision makers working on Joint Strategic Needs Assessment’. The LCCP sets out that “Given the importance of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) in shaping priorities for health and social care investment it is essential that a proper assessment of such environmental factors, which impact on population health and health inequalities, are given real attention and emphasis. Health and Well-being Boards and the Boards of health and care providers will also want to take full account of environmental issues and community capacity when addressing quality and finance challenges.”

The key study looking into these issues was undertaken by the UCL’s Institute of Health Equity. Their key report ‘The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty‘ was published in 2011 and can be downloaded here.

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North London Retrofit SME Network

May 2013: Waltham Forest have posted details of work being done to establish a new network for ‘green’ SMEs.

“North London boroughs are working together to develop a network of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) located in the North London area delivering energy efficient retrofit services and installations. The Council is working to promote uptake of energy retrofit in each borough.

The Council wants to build upon and support existing local supply chains to deliver this work. This will grow the local green economy and develop an SME/labour market that can be exported beyond North London.

The aims of the North London Retrofit SME Network are:

  • Create a directory of SME builders and installers who carry out green retrofit in North London. The North London SME Retrofit Directory is open to any SME delivering retrofit services located in the boroughs of Waltham Forest, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Newham
  • Start a forum to hear from local SMEs how Councils can support locally delivered retrofit in North London
  • Create networking opportunities among SMEs working in the area
  • Strengthen links with local training providers
  • Sign post local retrofit SMEs towards the different initiatives offering support and training in this growing market both locally and London wide

To find out more about the North London Retrofit SME Directory and Network please email:

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Thames Tideway Tunnel Energy and Carbon Footprint

April 2013: Thames Water recently submitted its 50,000 page (!) planning application for the development of the Thames Tideway Tunnel.  It’s not surprisingly a big project …requiring the construction of a 15 mile tunnel to run 75 metres beneath the Thames riverbed through central London and would capture storm sewage from overflow points along the river. An online video on the project’s website can be viewed here.

The Tunnel has been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP)  and as such its application must be submitted to the National Infrastructure Planning Inspectorate. And it is on their website that an Energy and Carbon Footprint Report for the project can be found ( here – and directly downloadable here).

This report sets out an energy and carbon footprint assessment for the Thames Tideway Tunnel considering the CO2 equivalent emissions (CO2e) for both the construction and operation of the tunnel. The results are presented within Section 5 of the report, which provides details on the CO2e associated with construction materials, transport and logistics, worksite construction activities and operational energy demand. The assumptions which underpin the assessment, and the raw data which informs it, is also provided within the appendices of the report.

The report sets out that the total carbon footprint, in the decarbonised scenario, of some 840,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)the principal impact from the project is the GHG emissions caused by construction of the infrastructure, in particular embodied carbon in materials, being approximately 84% of the total emissions, with emissions from construction plant and machinery (construction worksite activities eg tunnel boring and emissions from plant and machinery) being around 10%of the total emissions. Emissions during the 120 year operational life of the tunnel represent approximately 2.5% of the total GHG emissions. The transport of excavated material and construction materials represents approximately 3.5% of the total carbon footprint of the project.” Much is placed on overall future electricity grid decarbonisation to help reduce the CO2 footprint of the project.

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A low carbon and more energy efficient West End needs to be prioritised

1 May 2013: The Financial Times today highlights concerns raised by London’s West End businesses on the reliability of electricity supply to the centre of the capital. Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster City Council, comments in the article that : “It is a real issue, not just for Westminster but for London. The problem is not generation, it’s distribution. It seems foolish not to be able to plan for our future energy needs.”

Issues related to climate and energy  are set out in sections on infrastructure and the environment in a report published yesterday by the West End Commission. The report recognises the impact that climate change could have on businesses in the West End and sets out a number of significant changes to how lower carbon energy systems could be put in place to supply heat and power. These include:

  • The transition to a low-carbon economy must also become one of the key objectives of the West End partnership, including coordinating underpinning programmes as they relate to retrofit of buildings, new energy and waste systems [para 23]
  • The new West End partnership should also conduct an analysis to assess the appropriateness for the area of different forms of low carbon energy generation [para 24]
  • Some early priorities are to… plan for a low carbon and more energy efficient West End [page 32]
  • The development of new, high quality, energy efficient, mixed use/office space is a key factor in maintaining the West End’s ongoing economic competitiveness. [page 43]
  • There is a concern amongst developers that the current approach to investment in the network must be improved if the West End is going to have a secure energy supply over the long-term.  In its evidence the Westminster Property Association highlighted that ‘security and resilience of energy supplies area growing concern. This is an issue which goes to the heart of UK energy generation, distribution and regulation. The needs of the West End are quite exceptional, in national terms [page 43]
  • The current regulatory system provides limited incentives for investment ahead of demand,creating uncertainty for developers and often additional cost if new power substations are needed to guarantee energy supply. Through their statutory spatial planning process and setting of a Community Infrastructure Levy, the boroughs have the mechanism to identify and prioritise infrastructure requirements. However, boroughs do not have the power to mandate investment in electricity infrastructure and electricity supply will only be improved if the regulator allows investment ahead of demand.The Commission believes that swift action should now be taken to  implement  a new approach to investment in energy supply ahead of demand that builds on the well-established body of evidence. Such an approach should include looking at greater use of innovative sources of energy supply such as the use of hydrogen fuel cells, block or district combined heat and power networks, anaerobic digestion and waste to energy. [page44]
  • The report concludes that – In view of the pressing demand for a more resilient supply of energy to the West End,the new West End partnership should explore whether better use can be made of local decentralised and low carbon sources of supply such as district combined heat and power schemes, anaerobic digestion, energy from waste and hydrogen fuel cells, and whether more could be done to retrofit existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency and reduce demand. [page 46]

The West End Commission was convened by Westminster City Council in summer 2012 to review, explore and set out recommendations for the continued and future success of the West End of London.

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North London Electricity Line Reinforcement

May 2013: Posted at the National Infrastructure Planning website are  details of an application for a project consisting of “the upgrading of one of two existing 275kV overhead lines running between Waltham Cross and Tottenham substations (via Brimsdown substation) and its operation at a higher voltage (400kV). The upgrading will involve works at each substation along the route, plus associated works.” The

The application documents and project documents for the project can be accessed here and hereFurther information on the project is  at

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